MyCouncilWorks

Wellbeing Wednesday 26th January 2022

Jane Fowler

Jane Fowler – Head of Customer Support Services

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s Wellbeing Wednesday. You may remember that last week I was off to finish reading my ghost story – a New Year resolution to read more books. Well I can definitely recommend it….just as long as you are not frightened of the dark…

This week we are looking into Cervical Cancer and also learning about Veganuary.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women around the world. The introduction of HPV vaccinations in 2008 in the UK have resulted in an enormous 87% reduction in cervical cancer amongst those who have been vaccinated (research published by Cancer Research, Nov 2021).

This is fantastic news for young people, but for those of us who are older, regular cervical screening is essential to catch this disease early. Vaccinated women should have around 3 screenings in their lifetime, but for the rest of us, this will be every 3-5 years. Screening is extremely important for our health – as not everyone diagnosed with cervical cancer will have any symptoms.

Despite the high risk due to unclear symptoms, and the good recovery rates for cervical cancer, on average one in three of us still do not attend our free and quick screening appointments. You might feel embarrassed, ashamed, self-conscious or just worried. That’s ok. But please don’t let it stop you from having a simple process that could save your life. Speak with someone about your concerns and get support – there is lots of information available.

Veganuary is nearly at its end this year, and is not something that I have ever tried, but the free veganuary cookbook can be used year round. So as part of my commitment to reading more this year, I am off now to research the section on low carbon recipes for my lunch!

See you next week.

This week (17-23 January) is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. This campaign was launched by the UK charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust to help raise awareness of cervical screening, facilitate conversations, promote attendance to screening appointments and help develop an understanding of potential results.

Research from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust shows that on average one in three women and people with a cervix fail to attend screenings. There are 220,000 women and people with a cervix who, after screening, are told they have cervical cell changes. Jo’s Trust are encouraging us to break the taboo.

Jo’s Trust notes that many women and people with a cervix, prior to diagnosis, have little or no knowledge about cervical cell changes. Almost a third (26%) of participants in their survey stated they felt ashamed when receiving their diagnosis. This was particularly the case amongst those aged between 25-29 years old. Cervical screening (or smear tests as they are commonly referred to) can help identify any infections and changes to cervical cells.

What else does the research tell us?

The Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust annual report is a really compelling read and other key findings include:

  • 34% of respondents said their HPV diagnosis made them feel anxious, ashamed and embarrassed
  • 21% felt isolated after diagnosis and felt uncomfortable with telling others
  • There are growing fears that the COVID-19 pandemic is creating further isolation for those diagnosed
  • 51% said they knew little about cell changes which has led to calls from the trust for more education on the topic
  • Finally, in part due to the pandemic, almost one in three cervical screening tests are not attended. This is the lowest uptake in decades.

In the UK, approximately 1 in 100 women and people with a cervix will develop cervical cancer in their lifetime. The aim of Cervical Cancer Awareness Week is to ease concerns, create safe spaces for dialogue and help people feel less alone.

Cervical Screening

Cervical screening (also known as a smear test) is a free health test available on the NHS as part of the national cervical screening programme. It helps prevent cervical cancer by checking for a virus called high-risk HPV and cervical cell changes. It is not a test for cancer. 

It is your choice whether to go for cervical screening. You find out more about cervical screening here. We hope this information helps you make the best decision for you and your health. 

If you have symptoms, contact your GP surgery about having an examination. Cervical screening is not for people who have symptoms. 

Information and support

This download A5 booklet is for women who have been recently diagnosed with cervical cancer, as well as their family and friends. Using real women’s stories alongside our information, it explains all about cervical cancer, including causes, diagnosis, staging and treatment. It also has information on the impact of cervical cancer and getting support. It has a list of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust’s support services.

If you have a question, want reliable information or just need to hear a friendly voice you can call Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust’s free helpline on 0808 802 8000. 

Further information is available from:

Cervical cancer – NHS (www.nhs.uk) 

Veganuary

 Veganuary is an annual event which started in 2014 that helps to promote and educate people about veganism and encourage people to follow a vegan lifestyle throughout the month of January.  The aims of highlighting veganism are to increase participation; drive corporate change to increase availability of vegan choices; raise awareness of animal welfare issues and growing the global movement for a vegan lifestyle to protect the planet and improve human health.
 

 

Some things that can put people off considering vegan food include the perception that the food will be bland or uninteresting, or that it takes forever to prepare things or that it will be expensive as you have to buy lots of special foods.  There has never been more choice of vegan products in the supermarkets and the Veganuary website offers lots of information on getting the right balance for nutritional purposes, as well as recipes and easy meal plan guides. 

Even if you don’t feel that giving up meat completely if right for you, changing to a vegan diet 2 or 3 times a week can also bring benefits, or why not try Meat Free Mondays to ease you in to eating less meat?

You can sign up here to get a free download at the Celebrity Vegan Cookbook, with lots of tasty recipes to try.  Get Your Celebrity Cookbook! – Veganuary

Please also let us know your thoughts and ideas about the items featured in our Wellbeing Wednesdays each week and send us your suggestions for future topics – we love to hear from you.

The Wellbeing Team:  wellbeing@argyll-bute.gov.uk